The Art of the Rapier: A Manual for Modern Fencers

The Art of the Rapier is a comprehensive manual intended to teach modern people how to fence in the style of the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Profusely illustrated with both photographs and examples from period treatises, it is written for three main audiences: devotees of the Historical European Martial Arts (HEMA) movement; members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and other medieval-recreation groups; and coaches of the modern sport of fencing who are looking to expand their competencies.

No prior experience is necessary: The Art of the Rapier draws from the works of Camillo Agrippa (1553), Salvator Fabris (1606), Nicoletto Giganti (1606 and 1608), and Ridolfo Capo Ferro (1610) to present their essential actions and teaches the movement skills to perform these actions from the ground up. It then builds the actions into period-accurate tactical sequences and shows how to incorporate these concepts into actual bouting. The final chapters teach advanced skills such as grappling techniques, rapier and dagger, and coaching techniques. A translation of Albert Lacaze and George Dubois’ 1925 essay on sword and dagger completes the work.

This is a book that not only presents the art of Renaissance fencing in a way that is accessible to modern people, but also an entire philosophy and structure for reconstructing and teaching historical martial arts that will enable you to translate any historical fencing treatise from page to practice.

Ken Mondschein is the translator of the Paris manuscript of Fiore dei Liberi’s Flower of Battle (which he discovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale), Camillo Agrippa’s seminal Treatise on the Science of Arms, and Francesco Alfieri’s work on the two-handed sword, as well as the author of Game of Thrones and the Medieval Art of War (McFarland), On Time (Johns Hopkins University Press), and other scholarly and popular works. He began his study of historical fencing in the mid-1990s, which led him to both a PhD in history from Fordham University and fencing master’s certification in historical fencing from the United States Fencing Coaches’ Association. Besides being a professor at, inter alia, the University of Massachusetts and Boston University, Ken began teaching fencing at the Higgins Armory Museum in 2009 and is currently the principal instructor at Massachusetts Historical Swordsmanship (, the club he founded. Ken’s website, with links and downloadable PDFs of his scholarly work, is


  • Item #: ISBN 9780985444143
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